What makes a man, “a man?” Strength? Independence? Invulnerability?
That question itself might be outdated and irrelevant, but its implications still have an affect on some men today. Only 4 in 10 men with daily feelings of anxiety or depression seek treatment — which is upsetting when you consider suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for males. Clearly, something isn’t lining up.
So for any man who’s not seeking help because it doesn’t align with his idea of “masculinity,” people in our mental health community have some messages for you.
Here’s why no one’s too “manly” to seek help:
1. “The manliest thing you can do is talk to someone and get help.” — Christopher Chiocca
2. “Getting help doesn’t make you weak. It makes you even stronger.” — Mienisha Minnie Alexander
3. “Mental illness is like any other serious illness. You need a doctor, medication and any other prescribed treatment. It doesn’t mean you are weak any more than a broken arm makes you less than you are. Please get the help you need.” — Tammy Fulton O’Hara
4. “I see you struggling, and it hurts me. So if not for yourself, do it for those you love.” — Abigayle Petty
5. “A strong man is one who knows his weaknesses and takes care of himself so he has the internal resources he needs to care for others.” — Suzanne Risser
6. “You’re not just a man — you’re human. Let your human side heal, and be a happy man.” — Kim Montague Foster
7. “There is a saying we have at the Veteran Affairs: ‘It takes the strength and courage of a warrior to ask for help.'” — Delaina Conour
8. “Caring enough about yourself to get help is sexy as hell. This coming from someone with mental illnesses.” — Melichga Fariza
9. “Mental illness doesn’t choose gender.” — Davina Masunda
10. “It’s not an issue of being ‘manly’ or ‘soft’ — it’s an illness that needs to be treated. I know from experience.” — Michael Tryon
11. “Real strength, courage and being tough is not about never feeling pain or never being scared. Real strength and courage is feeling bad or scared and still doing what is right. Real strength is having the courage to be authentic and honest, which will not only help that person, but also make someone else feel not so alone. There is strength in numbers.” — Chad Layman
12. “Given the stigma of mental illnesses, admitting you have one and getting help are probably the bravest things you can do in this world.” — Anique Brito
13. “Therapy doesn’t have to be gushy feelings at all! Think of us therapists like strategists for the mind and life. We can give you logical explanations for why your brain does what it does, and we can give you some insights into ways to rethink a few things which will then prompt your brain to act differently. I find men are often relieved how easy it is to change a few things and not lose your personality.” – Elizabeth D. Thomas
14. “Try to see it like this: Taking care of your mental health is no different from taking care of your physical health. If your arm hurts, or you have a cold, or stomach pain, you would go see a doctor, right?” — Borderline Heart
15. “Treating yourself from the neck down isn’t healthy. Stop organ discrimination.” — Shelby Golden
16. “It’s not ‘manly’ to hide the parts of you that you can’t control; it’s ‘manly’ to face those things and fight them!” — Punki Munro
17. “It’s much easier to ask for help and get treatment for your illness than to pick up the pieces of your life if you don’t.” — Jenna Bagnini
18. “It takes a true man to admit he needs help. You don’t have to announce it to the entire world, but it takes tremendous courage to admit you need help and seek it out. My husband did it, and I am so proud of him.” — Morghan Jarvis Eckenfels
19. “You deserve to live a life to the fullest, and that means not only being physically healthy but also mentally. Do it for yourself, do it for the people you love and the people who love you.” — Jen Sprague
20. “You don’t have to suffer. Don’t let your pride keep you struggling. Life is worth getting healthy! Been there and am there. It’s hard but worth it.” — Aubrie McShane
21. “When the challenges of life weigh too heavily on the soul we cannot see the exit, but others, men and women, have faced this same problem at some point; it’s what makes us human. Seek the advice of those who’ve been there and come out the other side, or those who’s job it is to learn from those who’ve suffered. There are answers, there are exits, we just cannot find them when we’re lost.” — Wanda Monague
22. “If the issue was diabetes or cancer, would you be too ‘manly’ to seek help? Would it be wrong to seek medical attention if you had seizures? Mental health issues are not a matter of will power. It’s a sign something is not being tended to. From my own personal viewpoint, it takes a real man to seek help when having problems rather than just pushing through.” — Kindling Dreams
23. “Being a man who thought this, I would say, ‘It takes more strength to ask for help than it does to shoulder the burden yourself. You’re not alone. There are people out there just like you who are going through the same things. Even a soldier has an entire battalion backing him up.'” — Patrick Dovah Bowden
24. “When my husband was in the military, he feared getting treatment because it could have affected his job. We had a long discussion and it came down to our children. He decided to put his pride aside and, for the sake of having a healthy father mentally; he needed to get treatment for his PTSD. My advice: Think about the others it could affect. If you can’t or won’t do it for you, do it for them. Trust me, it’s a win-win.” — Sam Thayer
25. “Why is it OK to ask for help or advice from a broker, a mechanic, a plumber, but not from a counselor? Is the house or car or money really more important than your health or happiness?” — Heidi Sturgeon
26. “It is very hard for many men to ask for help. It is force-fed to them the whole time they are growing up: you are strong, you are tough, boys don’t cry, shake/walk it off, don’t be weak, stand up and be a man, provide, fight, know all, be all… it is not true! It is OK to hurt, it is OK to not be able to handle everything, it is OK to need help. It doesn’t make you weak to ask, it makes you smart. Tools are there to use, so use ’em. ” — Lisa Moore Sherman
*Answers have been edited and shortened for brevity.